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Live for God's Approval (2 Timothy 2:15)

Updated: Dec 26, 2019

Sermon on Sunday 4 August 2019 by Pastor Justin

2 Tim 2:15 - Be diligent to present your self approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Paul wrote this letter to Timothy to encourage and strengthen, wanting him to be steadfast in the calling that he received from the Lord, in the difficult ministry he was in. Paul called Timothy to be a steadfast and approved worker. 2 Timothy is an important book, central to the foundation of a Christian.

1. Believers are called to follow the good example of those who have held on to faith.

2 Tim 1:5 - when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.

2. Believers can rely on the authority of the scripture and need to handle it correctly. (2 Tim 2:15). If not, it will result in dispute and argument. Paul reminded Timothy to charge before the Lord in the church in Ephesus. You need to handle the word correctly.

3. Believers are to follow the sound doctrine and to avoid all pointless arguments.

2 Tim 2:23 - But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. Come back to the truth. If we do not have this, we will fall into a trap and the devil will manipulate us.

4. The Bible is inspired and equips the Christian for the work of God.

2 Tim 3:16 - All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. We have to train, be equipped and serve God. We need to be fruitful, faithful, obedient, humble, love, and preach the gospel. This verse explains clearly the work of the Word.

In verse 14, Timothy was being reminded. 2 Tim 2:14 - Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. God only uses us when we are tested, only when we are approved. 

2 Tim 2:15 - Be diligent to present your self approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Rightly dividing the word means walking straight. You need to be focused. You need to read the word plainly. Psalm 119:105 - Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

1. What are we seeking today - God's approval or God's blessing?

The wisest man on earth seeks God's approval, not material blessing. Seek His righteousness, His kingdom. We want to lead a life to please Him only. We want to seek His approval everyday. We are all accepted by God, but approval from God is a different thing. Paul had been chosen, tested and approved. He wished the same for Timothy.

2. Approved by God

1 Tim 1:12 - And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 

If you want to be an honourable vessel, you have to cleanse yourself, submit to the Lord, draw near to Him, resist the devil. If you come to Him, you have to come with faith. Without faith, you cannot please Him. He rewards people who diligently seek Him.

3. The secret of being approved by God

When our Lord Jesus Christ was 30 years old, he was baptised by his cousin John the baptist and the heavens opened. Matt 3:17 - And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." 

Jesus was approved even before He started any ministry. A successful ministry is no proof that you are approved by God. But it is because of how Jesus led His life. 

These verses tell us how Jesus lived a sinless life:

Heb 4:15 - For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Rom 15:3 - For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me."

2 Pet 1:5-11 - But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

The word "diligent" was used in 2 Tim 2:15 too. Be diligent everyday. What is your moral character? When no one is watching, what do you do? Add knowledge by reading the word. If you lack these things, you are near blind and will forget that you have been washed clean. If you have all these virtues, you have to be even more diligent, seeking His approval. When you have His approval, you walk in power. Let the Spirit of truth guide you.

4. Rightly dividing the Word of truth will make you wise, complete, equipped for every good work.

2 Tim 3:15-17 - and that from childhood you have known the holy scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

5 things that the Word of God does:

1. Salvation

2. Teaching

3. Reproof

4. Correction

5. Training

When you read the Word with the Spirit of truth, don't be fearful. God is talking to you, when the words bounce up and impress upon you, leading you from one verse to another. When you walk it out, you will be empowered. There are people who read the bible to justify their acts, to prove their points, for knowledge - these people are full of self-understanding only. But the bible tells us not to lean on our own understanding. Paul mentioned a few times in his epistle, to pray for a spirit of understanding and revelation. Without this, there is no perception of truth, no transformation, no new you. 

A big part of spiritual development involves reading and studying God's Word so that we know and understand it. There is no shortcut. You need to be like a good athlete, competing by the rules. Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance, to lead you to read with understanding.

We are approved by God not on the basis of the success of our ministry but rather on the basis of our faithfulness in the temptations that we face in daily life. 

2 Tim 2:19 - Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity." 

God has this solid foundation. He knows who His people are. Matt 7:21 - "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord', shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven."

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